SXSW: Through The Repellent Fence

Through The Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film is a documentary screening at the South By SouthWest Conference and Festival.

It’s about a trio of Indigenous artists (they create under the collective name Postcommodity) who are putting up an art installation, a wall or a fence if you will, between Mexico and the U.S. It is not meant as a separation in the way that Donald Trump intends his, rather, it’s meant as a fence that can bridge the two cultures\countries, and it will travel not along the border but a mile into each country.

It’s clear that the artists have put much thought into how this piece of land art will be perceived. MV5BZGNmM2E0MmEtMjc0YS00YzdkLWFkMTktNzIwOTdiMDY5YTU3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDE4OTc1MzE@._V1_They want something temporary, first of all, so as not to permanently alter the land. Think of sutures: something that dissolves after the healing is done. To that end, they come to a beautiful and striking solution of tethering helium-filled balloons. However, the fence is not just symbolic of connectedness, but represents an awful lot of actual collaboration between peoples and communities to make this art happen.

It’s not just about the art, though, but also of our reaction to it. The documentary allows us to talk about borders: real, shifting, fluid, imagined, and imposed. I watched it for exactly this reason: the art spoke to me, but the reasons are what compel, and are why a documentary is a great companion piece to such an important work. But it turns out the documentary, directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas, is thoughtful, intelligent, and a piece with its own inherent value. Its flavour is distinctly Indigenous, serving as a reminder that borders are a construct but life within and around them is always so much more rich and complex than we see in typical media portrayals.The documentary is also surprisingly beautiful, gorgeously lensed by cinematographer David Layton, with sweeping shots of some of the most cinematic landscapes on the planet.

Through The Repellent Fence, a worthy addition to the SXSW lineup, is screening atĀ Rollins Theatre at The Long Center on Saturday, March 11, 4:30pm, and again at Alamo Lamar on Monday, March 13 and Friday, March 17. It’s visually intoxicating and culturally significant: you have nothing to lose.

Starting today, we’ll be in Austin taking in as much SXSW goodness as we can handle. Follow along on Twitter at @assholemovies!


15 thoughts on “SXSW: Through The Repellent Fence

  1. Christopher

    I always think the best art creates conversations and I really love that these artists are doing something that’s both aesthetically interesting and creates conversations, and that it’s a collaborative process that literally crosses boundaries.
    The documentary sounds really good too–it’s also a work of art and also creating conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. calensariel

    “…borders are a construct but life within and around them is always so much more rich and complex than we see in typical media portrayals.” Boy isn’t THAT the truth. The abhorrent wall of Trump becomes a focal point drawing attention away from the true story of the people. When I was tutoring in an inner city school in 2006, I had an unusual conversation with a 2nd grader who told me how she, her younger sister, and her mother walked forever to get to the US while the sister was very ill. For the first time I had a face to go with the immigration issue. I’ll never forget it. Trump’s wall wants to block us from seeing the people. THIS wall is so different. Love it!


    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, this wall is about the people.
      Thanks for sharing that story. It is always disturbing and fascinating to know that someone is that motivated, to make a risky, life changing trip like that.
      And deeply sad that people are now making that same trip to flee America and cross into Canada.


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